The identification and rescue of victims within the framework of the fight against the online exploitation of minors is one of the operational priorities of Europol. To meet this objective, Europol has started up an initiative which asks the general public to help to identify victims of child pornography. This logically involves minor details rather than a direct approach. With the slogan “Stop child abuse, trace an object”, a webpage has been published which shows objects which appear in photographs obtained from sex crimes suffered by minors. The intention is for those members of the public who see these objects to be able to identify them and, with the information gathered, Europol will be able to identify their origin.
The driving force is that in two previous investigations two victims were successfully identified thanks to food wrappings and rubbish containers, which appeared due to these images and their sexual content.
On 1 June 2017 the first collection of twenty objects was published, which involve fragments of photographs in which bags, shoes, landscapes, bottles and other elements can be seen. For each object, some information is associated, with some indication about the type of object and more specific or more generic questions about the identification that may be made, about the locality and where certain products can be bought and sold. Such images can also be shared on social networks.
The information given by the members of the public can be anonymous, and whenever Europol confirms that the object has been identified or located in a particular place, the information will be passed on to the relevant police authorities in the country in question.
The quality of the images varies greatly and, in some cases, objects may turn out to be easier to identify than in others. The collection of images published will vary periodically.